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The University of Colorado Denver, in Partnership with Colorado Smart Cities Alliance and Innosphere Ventures, Announces the 12 Companies Participating as Part of the Smart Futures Lab Program

March 7, 2023

The University of Colorado Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing (CU Denver CEDC), in partnership with Colorado Smart Cities Alliance and Innosphere Ventures, announces the 12 companies participating in the inaugural 2023 Smart Futures Lab incubator and accelerator programs, which will begin on March 7.

The 12 companies selected out of a total of 42 applicants are led by people from the New Majority, which includes Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Women, and People with disabilities. Many businesses led by New Majority groups are often left out of the design and implementation of cities and new technology. This program seeks to put the New Majority in the driver seat and empower them to imagine more inclusive solutions and build businesses to realize their vision. All of these companies are building technology solutions to issues confronting quality of life in communities across Colorado, including transportation safety, mobility for people with disabilities, climate change, water, and urban planning.

Cohort participants will have access to a new physical coworking and prototyping space at 14th and Larimer streets that features a private 5G network for research and development of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that will be operational in early May 2023. As part of the program, they will engage with a custom education curriculum and have access to extensive partnership networks, among other additional benefits. The Smart Futures Lab is the result of a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support startups and entrepreneurs in the civic innovation space.

“The initial Smart Futures Lab cohorts represent a variety of companies at various stages of growth who are interested in the civic innovation space,” said Dan Griner, Director of Design, Innovation, and Strategy for CU Denver’s College of Engineering Design and Computing (CEDC) and Director of Smart Futures Lab. “The interest in the program demonstrates the need for opportunities like this and we’re proud of the diversity represented in the founders and leadership teams of the companies that have been selected.”

The incubator program is focused on helping entrepreneurs and companies transform their ideas into proof of concepts ready for real-world demonstration. The inaugural 2023 Smart Futures Lab incubator cohort includes: Blind Institute of Technology, Electrafide, Globewater & Solar Technologies, LLC, Herculean Feats, SNOWBOTIXSWAP, and Tappy Technology.

The accelerator program is geared towards elevating and scaling businesses with minimum viable products or services. The inaugural 2023 Smart Futures Lab accelerator cohort includes: A.D KnightCaliola Engineering LLCGridMatrix, Inc.inCitu.AR Inc., and Lazarillo Holding Inc.

The incubator and accelerator programs within the Smart Futures Lab support Goal Four of the university’s Strategic Plan—to serve as an anchor institution for an open innovation district in downtown Denver. The Smart Futures Lab complements ongoing research and microcredential programs in CEDC that look to redesign engineering education to enable social and economic growth of Denver and Colorado.

“Building a company is hard enough; but when your success is dependent on involvement from governments, then the challenge is even bigger,” said Tyler Svitak, Executive Director of the  Colorado Smart Cities Alliance. “ We’re ecstatic to invite these incredible companies into the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, partner them with innovative local governments across the state, and help them bring solutions to issues Coloradans are frustrated with every day.”

The seven companies accepted into the 2023 Smart Futures Lab incubator include:

Blind Institute of Technology
Blind Institute of Technology (BIT) is a nonprofit organization with boots on the ground across the United States working hard to advance the professional opportunities for people with disabilities. BIT will be leveraging the incubator to further develop EdgGuide, their indoor micronavigation system for people with visual impairments.
Mike Hess, Founder & Executive Director

Electrafide is a product design and engineering consulting company mainly focused on development of concepts and prototypes in the digital and electromechanical realms. They are developing a drone to clean solar panels in difficult-to-reach places or in large arrays.
David Seaton, Product Design Engineer

Globewater & Solar Technologies, LLC
Globewater & Solar offers, through distribution channels and its own research and development of technology, water and power systems that are designed to provide instant water and energy infrastructure to individuals, families, and communities. They are focused on off-grid solar power to provide water for agriculture, plus drinking water capabilities. 
Carolyn Kelly Colella, Founder & CIO

Herculean Feats
Herculean Feats supports a sustainable and equitable built environment with innovation. They build tools that let community members easily interact with infrastructure to get the most out of their experience in the public realm.
Jason Hercules, Founding Principal

SNOWBOTIX develops utility robots for non-road snow removal and off-road vegetation management.
Sasi Prabhakaran, Founder & CEO

SWAP is solving one of the challenges that’s preventing electric vehicles from becoming a practical form of mobility, by building a smart and sustainable energy infrastructure and electromobility ecosystem.
Salman Chishti, Founder

Tappy Technology
Tappy Guide is a smart mobility and transportation solution for people with disabilities and seniors.
John Petrous, Founder & CEO

The five companies accepted into the 2023 Smart Futures Lab accelerator include:

A.D Knight
A.D Knight develops novel technologies to improve traffic safety and traffic monitoring focusing on vulnerable road users based on IoT sensing. 
Dr. Jonathan Abir, Co-Founder & CEO

Caliola Engineering LLC
Caliola is a 100% woman-owned business that provides innovative technical solutions and services for secure and resilient communications.
Jennifer Halford, CEO

GridMatrix, Inc.
GridMatrix is a transportation data analytics company that provides cities with a continuous stream of real time, accurate data on vehicular and pedestrian road users, traffic congestion, signalized intersection performance, emissions, and safety.
Nicholas D’Andre, Co-Founder & CEO; Scott Hazard: Co-Founder

inCitu.AR Inc.
inCitu is mapping the future of the built environment in augmented reality (AR), to foster collaboration between residents, designers, and city governments in the process of urban change.
Dana Chermesh-Reshef, Founder & CEO

Lazarillo Holding Inc.
Lazarillo is a mapping platform and mobile app that enhances the experience in cities for citizens with and without disabilities, with the goal of making the world more accessible.
Rene Espinoza, CEO

CU Denver, Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, and Innosphere Ventures expect outcomes from this initiative will have a positive ripple effect across the state, including the growth of technology jobs and the development of solutions to key quality of life issues, like transportation, energy, and water. 

Applications for the 2024 Smart Futures Lab cohorts will open at the end of this year.